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California May End Statute Of Limitations For Rape In Wake Of Cosby Case

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – A new push begins in the California Legislature to make sure that sexual predators are brought to justice, no matter when they get caught.

State Sen. Connie Levya introduced a bill to eliminate statutes of limitations for rape.

Current state law gives alleged victims a decade to speak out against their accused abuser. A victim is only allowed additional time to come forward if DNA evidence is found.

The statute of limitations exists to protect defendants and make sure evidence presented in the prosecution hasn't deteriorated over time.

This issue was raised after the Bill Cosby scandal when people realized some of the alleged crimes will go unprosecuted because the statute has expired.

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"Unfortunately, I have the difficult job of having to explain to victims that in a number of states -- including in California -- that there is a time period called the statute of limitations," said attorney Gloria Allred.

Dozens of rape victims spoke before the Senate Public Safety Committee Tuesday morning, urging them to move this bill forward.

"War criminals, no matter how many decades have passed, they cannot evade prosecution," said sexual assault survivor Lili Bernard. "I'm asking you to do the same thing for us rape survivors who survived war upon our bodies and our oppressors, who are war criminals."

Helen Hayes of San Anselmo is among more than 50 women who have accused Cosby of some form of sexual assault. Hayes hopes the bill passes to prevent other women from going through what she has for decades.

"If it's abolished, maybe it will save some women from being attacked," Hayes said. "You can't just hide for all those years like he did, and laugh and say 'They can't do anything to me.'"

The Senate Public Safety Committee will consider this bill Tuesday morning at the State Capitol.

If approved, the bill wouldn't take effect until next year and would only apply to the crimes committed after January 1st of 2017, and for those whose current statute of limitations hasn't already expired.

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